PVL: Calicut Heroes races to the playoffs

It became the first team to qualify for the semifinals after beating Black Hawks Hyderabad.

The Calicut Heroes thrashed Black Hawks Hyderabad for its fourth straight victory in the six-team Pro Volleyball League.   -  TWITTER: PVL

Olympian Paul Lotman had spoken about how his team applies service pressure on opponents after demolishing Kochi Blue Spikers last night.

The Calicut Heroes was at it again on Sunday night as it thrashed Black Hawks Hyderabad for its fourth straight victory in the six-team Pro Volleyball League at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium and confirmed its semifinal berth.

While captain Jerome Vinith sparkled brightly in the previous game, attacker C. Ajithlal was the Heroes’ hero tonight, especially in the opening set, where he produced three super points, one with an ace service and later with two smashes.

The scores were level at eight and 10 but Ajithlal’s super show helped the side pull away. Setter Vipul Kumar knew Ajith was on full flow and he confidently gave him plenty of lifts.

Playing on consecutive days has been a problem for teams here but not for the Heroes. They took chances too and were richly rewarded. Rarely does a team attempt a super point when it leads 10-8, that would be very risky.

But the Heroes did just that in the second set and the gamble paid off with Jerome coming up with a hard smash from the right which left the Hawks’ back court wobbling. That virtually took the second set away from the Black Hawks.

The Heroes also came up with a strong block with Congo’s tall Illouni Ngampourou, A. Karthik and Paul keeping the Hawks’ dangerman Ashwal Rai at bay and their serves played havoc with their opponents’ first passes.

While Paul was the star of the second set, the third was a close affair. The Hawks set up a soft block for Jerome and with the backcourt supporting it, they drew level at seven.

But the Heroes pinned their rivals as Naveen Kumar’s super serve and Ajithlal’s super point helped them race ahead, eventually grabbing a 3-0 winning lead.

Ajithlal was the Heroes’ top scorer with 19 points while Jerome (12) and Paul (8) took the next two spots. For Hawks, Ashwal Rai (9) and Rohit Kumar (7) topped the table.

The result: Calicut Heroes bt Black Hawks Hyderabad 15-11, 15-11, 15-7, 12-15, 11-15.

Monday’s match: Kochi Blue Spikers v Chennai Spartans, 7 p.m.